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USS Kete (SS-369)

USS Kete (SS-369) patch


The USS Kete (SS-369) was a Balao-class World War II era submarine.

The namesake of the USS Kete is a species of North Pacific salmon also called "chum" or "dog salmon" (Oncorhynchus keta).

The radio call sign of the USS Kete was NAN-JIG-UNCLE-ROGER.

The Kete, captained by Lieutenant Commander Edward Ackerman, left the submarine base at Guam on March 1, 1945, for her second and final war patrol. Her orders were to patrol in the waters surrounding the Nansei Shoto (Ryukyu Islands). In addition to her patrol duties, she would assist preparations for the forthcoming invasion of Okinawa by performing lifeguard duty and gathering weather data. While patrolling west of the Tokara Retto islands on the night of March 9-10, 1945, the Kete reported she had torpedoed and sunk three enemy cargo ships. During the night of March 14th, she reported making an unsuccessful attack on a cable-laying vessel. On March 19th, the Kete acknowledged orders to depart the area on March 20th, refuel at Midway Island, and proceed to Pearl Harbor for refit. On March 20th, she sent a weather report from a position south of Tokara Kaiko (Colnett Strait), at the geographic coordinates 29° 38' N, 130° 02' E. This was the last transmission ever received from the Kete and it is her last known position. Scheduled to arrive at Midway Island by March 31, 1945, she was never heard from again. On April 16th, she was listed as presumed lost. 1

There are three possible explanations for the Kete's loss; none provide conclusive evidence. The first possibility is that on March 20, 1945, the Kete struck a mine south of Yakushima Island. One-thousand mines were laid in that area on February 27, 1945, by the Japanese minelayer Tokiwa and the auxiliary minelayer Koei Maru. The Kete was moving through that area at a time when the minefield would have been at the peak of its potency. The second possibility is that the Kete was sunk by the Japanese submarine RO-41. The RO-41 was in the area where Kete sent her weather report on March 20th. The RO-41 was also lost during this period and did not report contact with an American submarine prior to her own loss. The third possibility was suggested by the Japanese author and historian Kimata Jiro, who stated that a technical malfunction could have been the reason for the Kete's loss. During her first patrol the Kete's bow planes failed and she had to go to Saipan for repairs. She was there for a month undergoing these repairs. She could have experienced a similar problem on her second patrol and perhaps it was fatal. 2

A list of the personnel lost with the Kete is maintained at On Eternal Patrol.

The Kete earned the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with one campaign star for participation in the operation involving the assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto, from March 6-16, 1945. Her JANAC score and her Alden-McDonald score are the same - 6,881 tons sunk in three enemy cargo vessels. Her SORG score is three vessels sunk for 12,000 tons. 3

Patrol Data & Tonnage Scores

USS Kete (SS-369) First Patrol

Footnotes:

1. United States Submarine Losses World War II, p. 139.

2. Miller, Vernon J., "U. S. Submarine Losses," issue 44, p. 45; Hackett, Bob and Sander Kingsepp, "HIJMS Submarine RO-41: Tabular Record of Movement," published online Combined Fleet.

3. Alden, John D., and Craig R. McDonald, United States and Allied Submarine Successes in the Pacific and Far East During World War II, Fourth Edition, see USS Kete (SS-369), Attack Nos. 3671, 3672, 3673, and 3674; Submarine war patrol reports on CD, data collected by the Submarine Operations Research Group (SORG) in the report "Results of U. S. Submarine War Patrols Listed Alphabetically by Name of Submarine"; Japanese Naval And Merchant Shipping Losses During World War II By All Causes, Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee, see USS Kete (SS-369).